And As You Wish That Men Would Do to You, Do So to Them

SR Letterhead LogoWhat do you do when another driver doesn’t wait at an intersection?  Or you get a nasty look from someone at the grocery store? Or your spouse snaps at you?

In our Catholic ID leadership training each week, we make a group resolution.  We share what we are going to work on to develop ourselves in faith life and discipleship habits.  This week’s challenge is to examine encounters with the world at large, through God’s eyes.

“What Would Jesus Do?” was ubiquitous a few years ago and it bears resurrecting.  What WOULD Jesus do?  Has this become just another acronym to be parodied or do we ever sincerely wonder?

One of Christ’s biggest directives to us is to Love.  Simply Love.  Luke 6:31: And as you wish that men would do to you, do so to them.

God the Father loves us all deeply, unconditionally, and passionately.  I frequently remind myself of the “all” in that statement.  God loves us ALL; not just the folks who attend Mass each day or week, who give generously of their time, talent and treasure or who seem to walk in constant peace and joy.  He loves every single one of us.  He loves those of us who choose to play solitaire on our phones instead of praying.  He loves those of us who are snotty to our family members because they have used up all of our spare patience.  He loves those of us who, in our hurry to get to work on time, roll through the four way stop when it isn’t quite our turn.  He also loves those of us who have big sins that weigh us down every day.  Those who are convinced the holy water may start on fire if we enter a church.

What is the practical application of seeing with God’s eyes? What do I do when my feelings are hurt? I have some ideas – thanks to my fellow facilitators in training for their inspiration

First up is Prayer.  I need to ask God to help me remember to pray when I encounter those people who I’d like to judge or lash out at.  Then I need to actually pray “Father, help me to remember that you love all of us and you see value in each human being we meet.  I don’t know why that person made that choice but please be with him as he goes about his day and help me remember that I am just as flawed but you love me too.”

Second, I need to remember the Pray magnet affixed to the back of my car.  If you don’t have one, it’s worth getting (a google search will bring up many inexpensive options).  It will make you a better driver.  When someone does something that frustrates me, I remember that on the back of my car it says “Pray” and I can hardly make a rude gesture or furiously pass on the right if I’ve got that proclaimed from my car.

Third, I need to remember that everyone is carrying their own proverbial cross.  A friend shared a video with me. Click here to watch.  It’s a reminder that things aren’t always what they seem on the outside.  The actions that may aggravate us most often have nothing to do with us.  They are performed by a person who has his or her own pain and needs to be loved.  We just cannot readily see it.  God can.

So I have been trying to remember these things as I go about my day and I have found it works.  When I recognize that it is not all about me and that others have their own struggles, it makes it easier to accept the little slights.  When I remember to say a prayer for those around me, I cannot get upset.  I feel compassion and I think the world could use more of that.  Much more.

Merridith Frediani
Parish Life Coordinator

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Adoration: Our Spiritual Nourishment – A Reflection by Jackie Piano

SR Letterhead LogoMy soul was filled beyond measure to learn that our 8th Grade Religious Education Program students would have the opportunity for Adoration of our dear Lord in the Most Blessed Sacrament as part of their transition to the high school formation program. Adoration of the Eucharist literally saved my life. It was what brought me back to the Church and fullness of faith. I am rejoicing that our precious 8th graders that God has gifted to me as their catechist were given this amazing opportunity.

I would like to share several quotations that point to the importance of Adoration in Catholic faith. “A thousand years of enjoying human glory is not worth even one hour spent sweetly communing with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.” (St. Padre Pio) Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration with exposition needs a great push. “People ask me, ‘What Will convert America and save the World?” My answer is prayer. What we need is for every parish to come before Jesus himself in the Blessed Sacrament in holy hours of prayer.” (Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta)

Saint John Paul ll said that “From the Eucharist comes strength to live the Christian life and zeal to share that life with others.” His successor, Pope Benedict XVI said “You must propagate veneration of the Most Blessed Sacrament with all your might, for the devotion to the Holy Eucharist is the queen of all devotions.” Bishop Fulton J. Sheen reminded us that “The greatest love story of all time is contained in a tiny White host.” Finally, St. John Bosco said “Trust all things to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament and to Mary Help of Christians and you will see what miracles are.”

God bless all who worked with our Religious Education students this year. Please join me in praying for our 8th graders that they will listen to the whispers of the Holy Spirit within them.

I thank God every day that St. Robert Parish is a parish that offers Adoration of the Eucharist both on Wednesday evenings at Cor Jesu (7:00 PM in church) and every Friday (9:00 AM to 9:00 PM in the little chapel). I pray that our parish as members of the family of God would embrace this life-changing, heart-reaching, soul-touching devotion more fully. Sadly, there have been numerous occasions that l have entered the chapel on Fridays and have found our dear Lord alone. This must change. This should never be. Wouldn’t it be fitting to our Lord if the chapel were full of people so in love with Jesus that they take time out of their Fridays to spend time with Him? Wouldn’t it be fitting to our Lord if Adoration of the Eucharist grew so much at St. Robert Parish that it had to be moved to the big church to accommodate all of our dear Lord‘s faithful adorers? He suffered and died for us, surely we can adore and live for Him. Parents bring your kids!  Kids bring your parents! Tell everyone you know that our Lord is waiting for them! See ya on Friday!

Peace and love, Jackie

Refill for the Journey – Father Peter Patrick’s Homily for July 26, 2015

Photograph of Father Peter PatrickRefill for the journey!  This past week, I went on the Mission Trip with St. Robert and Holy Family teens to the Red Lake Nation Reservation in northwest Minnesota.  Every time we needed gas we would stop and refill at the nearest gas station we saw; because we didn’t know if there was a gas station where we going.  Just as we gather here, where we have come to be refilled spiritually after a long week.

Today’s first reading and the gospel are talking about satisfying the hunger of those in physical need of food. The second reading is focusing on how we should relate to each other, which is spiritual satisfaction.  If we are spiritually fed, we will definitely be able to see the physical needs of our brothers and sisters who are less fortunate.

Our God is a generous and compassionate God who satisfies the physical and spiritual hunger of people through his Son, Jesus.  In today’s gospel, we see a compassionate Jesus, who is very sensitive to the physical hunger of people who were flocking to him.  Today’s gospel message invites us to become sensitive to hunger and poverty around us and share our food and resources with the hungry and the needy.

Every week we make an announcement asking for food donation for St. Martin de Porres; cereals and canned food, and every week we have the baskets at the back of the church.  Yes!  It is good to donate, but it would be better if we would take the time to visit the food pantry and interact with the people there.  I know is not easy, but that is our calling as Christ’s representatives in this world.  St. Paul challenges us in the second reading to be worthy of that calling by being “humble, gentle, patient and bearing with one another through love, striving to preserve the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace: one body and one Spirit, as you were also called to the one hope of your call; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all (Eph 4:1-6).”

Mother Teresa said: “Being unwanted, unloved, uncared for….is a much greater hunger, a much greater poverty than the person who has nothing to eat.” We are called to feed people with these and other spiritual values as well.  One does not live by bread alone (Mt 4:4).  People need to be fed with food as well as love, care, truth and peace.  This miracle of multiplication of bread has strong Eucharistic overtones.  The Eucharist satisfies our spiritual hunger and motivates us to share our goods with the needy.  In other words, besides nourishing us spiritually, the Eucharist sends us out in the world to break our bread with the hungry and the needy.

Today I’m challenging you to remember to bring some non-perishable food item and fill our baskets at the back of the church next Sunday.  Also, if you get a chance, please visit one of the food pantries and interact with the people there.  I bet you will be a different person with a different understanding of those people.  Because Mother Teresa of Calcutta said; “No one is so poor that he/she cannot give, and no one is rich he/she cannot receive.”

Food for the Journey – Father Dennis’ Homily for July 26, 2015

Portrait of Father Dennis DirkxWhen God gives out food to the hungry there are always left-overs.  Both the first reading, 2 Kings 4: 42-44, and the gospel, John 6:1-15, are two good examples of God’s generosity.  The man who brought the twenty barley loaves to Elisha and Philip had no idea that what seemed like a small amount of food could feed so many.  The little we have in the hands of God can go a long way.  There are four basic hungers of humanity.

The first reading and the gospel refer to one of those hungers—the physical hunger for food.  There are many other physical hungers known to mankind, but the one we can do much about is the hunger for food.  In our hearing of John’s Gospel we are asked by the Risen Lord, “Where can we buy enough food for them to eat, (John 6:5)?”  It is an important question on many levels.  Global population growth is forcing Jesus’ question to become a critical one.  We have seen an increase of hunger in our own metropolitan area.  Those of you who so generously provide food and time for meal programs can testify to this reality.  For some children, the meals provided by the Milwaukee School System are the only food they have for that day.  This is one kind of hunger and we all must be attentive to it and our responsibility to respond to it.  Pope Francis in his latest encyclical letter, Laudato Si’, refers to this hunger.

There is also the hunger for truth, goodness and beauty.  We have an innate desire for knowledge.  There is a growing awareness through the world that education is a human right.  It is a right often denied many because of gender, orientation, race or religion.  Malala, the young Pakistani teenage girl, has become the inspiration of many young women throughout the world who are pursuing their right to an education.  Messmer High School, Christo Rey High School, Jesuit Nativity School, Notre Dame Middle School for girls, and others, are established on the principle that education is the doorway out of poverty and the culture of violence.  The hunger for truth, goodness and beauty is the second basic hunger of humanity.

The third basic hunger of humanity is what I would call a spiritual hunger—a hunger for God.  We, as human beings, seek wholeness because at the core of our being we experience a dividedness that seeks wholeness; or, some call it a primordial woundedness that seeks healing.  The rich young man who approached Jesus in Matthew’s Gospel was seeking to satisfy his spiritual hunger.  When Jesus offered him the possibility of seeking perfection, the rich man walked away because he was unwilling to part with what was holding him from obtaining wholeness.  Our spiritual hunger reveals to us the deepest of all human hungers.

This is the fourth hunger of mankind—God’s hunger for us.  When God created human beings, He placed within every human being His hunger for us.  An unknown writer described the entrance into this hunger in these words.  “We follow Plato out of the cave and seek the light of the sun, and in seeking we find the Son, S-o-n.  And in finding the Son, we are captured by the fourth hunger.”  This is God’s hunger for us.  To live in the consciousness of this hunger is to become perfect not in the eyes of this world, but in the eyes of God.  God hungers and thirsts for people to enter into His Kingdom—to be like His Son who spend and not take, who give instead of getting.

All other human hungers stem from these four basic hungers of mankind.  Once again this weekend the Bread of Life will be broken and shared with you and millions and millions of our brothers and sisters.  It makes the miracle of the feeding of the five thousand look like a drop of water in a bucket that can hold the sea.  It is given to us by the One who hungers for us that we in turn might hunger for Him.  Has our hunger been satisfied?

Avoid Burnout! – Father Dennis’ Homily for July 19, 2015

Portrait of Father Dennis DirkxI grew up on a farm in Northern Wisconsin.  There was a rhythm to farm life.  The cows had to be milked twice a day, once in the morning and once toward evening.  Spring was a time for planting and summer was a time for harvesting; first the hay and later in the summer, the oats needed to feed the cows during the winter.  Early fall was a time to harvest the corn and late fall was a time for getting the designated fields ready for planting in the spring.  Early November was a quiet time with its feeling of accomplishment as we waited for winter.  The hay barn was full, the straw was collected to bed down the cows during the winter months, the oats and corn were gathered, everything in the garden was canned, the young steer was slaughtered and the meat was in the freezer.  Besides milking and caring for the cows, winter was a down time.  The same rhythm was repeated year after year.

With farming, as with life anywhere, there is a need for down time in the rhythm of life.  For many families in our parish the down time is the summer vacation – something that didn’t happen on the farm.  There is a rhythm to our spiritual lives, too.  This time is directed by Jesus.  He provides us with rest in which we re-create and re-energize ourselves for continuing His mission.  In the quiet times with the Lord He gives us what is needed to be on mission.  Oftentimes, this may be interrupted by people’s hunger revealing God’s call to us as was the case in the Gospel we have just heard, Mark 6: 30-34.  Jesus wanting to take the disciples to a deserted place to rest was interrupted with people’s hunger for more.

The largest denomination in our country is the Roman Catholic Church.  The next largest group is made up of people who have left the Catholic Church.  They left hoping to find something to satisfy their hunger.  In this reality God is calling us to reach out and invite our sisters and brothers back home.  It is an imperative.  It is a re-enactment of today’s gospel.  We come to be with our Lord in this quiet time this morning and the empty spaces among us reveal to us God’s will to seek after the lost.  The first two initiatives of the Synod that we are asked to implement address this concern—evangelization of those who left and making our Sunday Mass something to satisfy people’s spiritual hunger.  Here at Holy Family and St. Robert of Newminster our goal is twofold.  First, we are working on making the weekend count (Sunday Mass) and second, we are moving into our second year of small faith sharing groups—a grass roots evangelization effort.  In the past few years I have had parishioners approach me with the question, “What can we do to invite people back to Sunday Mass?”  The question reveals both an awareness of the problem and a realization that whatever is done needs to be done together.  This is our starting point.

There are no simple solutions to the mammoth problem we are facing.  We all have to become involved in the solution.  I would love on a Sunday morning after Mass to have all of us sit down at tables  while enjoying a cup of coffee and challenge each other with the question, “What are you going to do this week to bring someone you know back to Sunday Mass?” We would leave the table with the commitment to hold each other accountable.

On September 26th and 27th there will be an Arise Mission at St. Robert’s.  Prior to the event there will be two training sessions on how to invite people to participate in Arise.  The event itself will serve as a transition into small faith sharing groups.

I bring all this before you because this is the living reality of the Gospel we have just heard.  We want to be alone with the Lord, but we hear the Spirit of God calling us to be attentive to our lost sisters and brothers.

You Are Sent – Father Dennis’ Homily for July 12, 2015

Portrait of Father Dennis DirkxWhat is unusual about the Gospel story we’ve just heard? (Mark 6:7-13) The unusual element in the story is Jesus’ instruction to the apostles to take nothing for the journey except a walking stick and a pair of sandals.  This instruction would have caught their attention immediately because anyone traveling in the ancient world would have taken the necessary provisions along, such as food, money, a sack for carrying the things needed for the trip, and extra clothing, depending upon the distance of the trip.  The point Jesus was making with this instruction was two-fold.  First, the apostles, as travelers, were to be dependent upon the One who sent them.  Second, the messenger was to be the message.  We see this clearly in the mission’s urgency.

The instruction Jesus gave was definitely considered unusual by the apostles, and so is the fact that He summoned them.  Summoned is a significant word in this passage.  There is urgency about being summoned.  We will hear this word again in the Third Eucharistic Prayer.  “Listen graciously to the prayers of this family, whom you have summoned before you.”  The mission’s urgency dictated how they were to travel, as it does for us today.  This urgency is rooted in the very mission of Jesus Christ.  He knew that the relationship with God and one another was at stake.  This emotion will be highlighted in next Sunday’s Gospel and is essential to Matthew’s Gospel.  Without the sense of urgency, the disciples would have been instructed differently by Jesus.

In our own day the urgency of the mission given to the apostles, and now to us through the Church, is the same.  This sense of urgency encompasses the preaching theme for this Sunday—“We Are Sent!”  People’s relationship with God and one another is at stake as much today as it was in Jesus’ day.  The signs of this are all around us.  The front page of any morning paper will detail this point.  When a society takes God out of the picture it is like taking the keystone out of an arch—the whole thing collapses.  We need to not only hear this urgency, but we have to feel it in our souls as Jesus did in His soul.  His heart was moved with pity for the people.  We have to allow our hearts to be moved with compassion—with solidarity in the face of suffering because if there is nothing moving in our hearts there will be no sense of urgency in our message.  This is the first step in being sent into the world.

The second step in being sent on this mission of the Risen Lord is the realization that we can make a difference—that people will hear their need for God and for one another.  There was a young boy walking along a beach. When he came upon a starfish that had been washed up he would pick it up and throw it back into the sea.  A man who had been watching this came up and asked the boy what he was doing.  The boy told him that he was saving starfish.  The man asked, “How are you going to make a difference when there are so many star fish that get washed up on shore?”  As the boy picked up another one and threw it back into the sea, he said, “I made a difference for that one.”  Making a difference is one person at a time.  This is step number two.

The third step of being sent is relying upon the One who sends us.  We may not have the right words to say or even know what to say but He will give us words to speak.  Jesus instructs us with these words, “When the hour comes, you will be given what you are to say.  You yourselves will not be the speakers; the Spirit of your Father will be speaking in you.” (Matthew 10: 19b-20) This is the third step.

The fourth step is simply remembering that the messenger is the message.  St. Francis always instructed his brothers about the necessity of proclaiming the Gospel, using words only when necessary.

Each of us is sent out with the mission entrusted to us by Jesus Christ.  We have been given different gifts that we can use in the proclamation of repentance.  We go forth with the same Spirit who guided Jesus as He walked among us.

The Answer Is Simple – Father Peter Patrick’s Homily for July 12, 2015

Photograph of Father Peter PatrickThe messenger is the message. When Jesus called his first disciples, he instructed them to keep it simple. Simple in the way they present themselves. Remember he also called simple people, among them at the Sea of Galilee (1:16-20) to be his partners in establishing God’s Kingdom.  Then he calls them to remain with him in close companionship with the intention of sending them out to proclaim the message of the Kingdom (3:13-14) with the power that flows from their intimacy with him. Now comes the moment when he really begins to send them out with specific instructions about what to take, what not to take, where to stay, what to do and how to respond when they face rejection (6:8-11).

We also as disciples of Jesus by the virtue of our baptism were been commissioned to establish the kingdom of God here on earth. Then the question arise; how am I am to preach, since I am not a priest? The answer is simple. By our small and simple deeds with great love, as Mother Teresa of Calcutta put it.

In our history of our faith, we have people who have left us great examples to emulate. A good example is St. Francis of Assisi. He came from a wealthy family, but he abandoned everything and developed a deep love and concern for the outcasts and rejects of society. This grew in his heart as a result of two scripture readings that touched him deeply. First is from Genesis; It says that every person is created in the image and likeness of God. The second is from the Gospel of Matthew; it says that whatever we do for the least person, we do for Jesus.

Francis was moved by those two readings and today’s gospel, and was prompted to start a community of caring for the sick and the poor. Today, Franciscans are the largest religious community.

The gospel is calling us to detach ourselves from what is keeping us away from God and our neighbors, and rely on God’s power rather than worldly power that comes from material possessions.  Today, Jesus reminds us that following Him does not mean just going to church and saying our daily prayers, but also being faithful to His mission. We are sent by Him with the following commission: (1) to preach repentance, that is, to tell others by our words and deeds that all of us are constantly in need of reform and conversion; (2) to cast our demons, that is, to fight against the evil, sinful, unjust and ungodly ways of the world; and (3) to heal the sick, that is, to alleviate pain, suffering, sorrow and misery in the lives of people around us. Mission work is not the work of just the select few, but is our baptismal call. Hence, to be a Christian is to be a missionary. 

Let us close with St. Francis of Assisi’s prayer:

“Lord, make me an instrument of your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy.
O, Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love; For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; it is in dying that we are born again to eternal life.”